Knox Pashaa: Chapter 8

Knox wound his way through the synthetic haze back towards his modest apartment. He was too inebriated now to care about his problems, probably more than was for his own good. The hallways in this sector were dark now. There was no night and day in the depths of space, only a constant stream of happening and so the station did its best to keep up the illusion of a set time to sleep and a time to be awake by alternating the light systems on full and dim. For Mirrani, however, darkness had as much meaning as the light, their eyes were suited to dark places and few illusions affected them.

So Knox could see where he was going for the most part as he staggered his way home, bouncing off of each foot in exaggerated attempts to maintain balance. He passed the familiar fountains and rows of white doors with frustrated grunts at his miscalculated movements. Upon finding his own door, he lifted his data tablet up to the keypad. A blue light emitted and radiating lines scanned Knox’s device.

The soothing female voice spoke again.

“Reporter KNOX PASHAA, you have been relocated to apartment 5-G due to excellent service for the editor.”

Knox swayed a bit in his stance as the words hit him. Then he chuckled.

“That's right Shaina, I’m the Mirrani in sector 5-G now! Who’s smiling now, Gad?”

It was at this point he noticed the flashing light on the corner of his neglected data tablet.

Unlocking the device, he began to concentrate on the long list of notifications. The primary ones were from the Station Quarters dept. No doubt they were informing Knox of his room change. The notifications from several hours ago felt like a lifetime away, as though phantoms had been reaching out to him unheeded. There were several missed calls and messages there was one from his mother and then... Knox suddenly steadied himself his eyes went wide.

The message came from a Pyra. A certain Pyra Knox was supposed to meet 5 hours ago. Knox read the last message sent.

Riza: “WHERE ARE YOU!? Urgent info! Safety in jeopardy. Unsafe to send more detailed message. Meet at usual place if received.”

The key points of the message cascaded through Knox’s affected mind. Adrenaline pounded through his extremities as his head swam. The inebriation was fading like a stain and he looked up through the dark corridors as if he would be able to see what to do next around him. There was movement. He watched as a figure appeared walking in his direction from down the hallway.

“Oh gods,” he whispered to himself.

The figure neared,the Ventoshi was well-dressed with a coat over his arm.

“Hey there!” the figure called.

Knox only watched him approach his hairs standing on end, his mind swimming, his feet stiff as roots.

The Ventoshi walked right up to Knox, smiling, the coat over his arm and hiding something in his hand.

“Do you live here?” he said.

“No.” Knox blurted.

The Ventoshi laughed and turned to the door.

“I just got relocated to this room an hour ago. Talk about bad timing, I was just about to fall asleep, but anytime in sector H beats sector J, amirite?”

The Ventoshi placed what was under the coat on the floor next to the door revealing it to be a small suitcase.

Knox cracked a smile as the Ventoshi looked to the door of the apartment and then back to Knox. He sized Knox up: wide bloodshot eyes, vague loss of place, and swaying stature.

“Oh gods, you didn’t get downgraded did you?”

“Uhhh, oh! No, I just…I’m abit out of place at the moment.”

“Uh-huh...”

They held eye contact for a moment before Knox broke the silence. “I need to go.”

At that point Knox turned and began moving quickly back down the hall towards the turbolifts.

The Ventoshi watched him leave, shrugged and turned to his new apartment. He took a deep breath in. This would be a whole new start for him. A low level reporter, only signed on the station for a few years so far, he was already rising up to greater prosperity. The Ventoshi held out his own data tablet to the panel and the soothing female voice returned as the door lock disengaged.

“Welcome to your new home!”

Yes this would be a new start for him. He opened the door and was met with a wall of flame.

Knox was still only a few meters down the hall when the concussive blast and heat of the explosion hit his back. He fell into a large potted plant and clattered down to the floor with the dirt and broken porcelain. From the ground he turned back to see the dark flames rising up from what had been his room only an hour ago, smoke billowing out under the ceiling. A moment later the full-on lights of the station returned with the blaring of the fire alarm. Knox struggled to pick himself up as the doors to adjacent apartments opened and the shellshocked neighbors began to emerge. As they entered the hallway the sprinkler systems activated and the corridor rained down foamy water.

Knox’s swirling mind was impacted by the screams of neighbors, foam, steam and smoke that filled the air. Through the panic and the cacophony he pushed his way through the people, knocking over a bewildered janitor still in his night-clothes and pushing aside a mother with her child.

He crashed into one of the turbolift doors and rapidly hit the button, his gaze darted around and the swelling panic and realization began to set in. The doors opened and a fire crew exited in a hurry, knocking Knox to the floor. Recoiling, Knox crawled into the lift and huddled in the corner, pressing several buttons for a destination lower on the station.

The mirrored kick-plate around the floor was blurry, but Knox looked at his pale face in the reflection. The lift made comfortable motion away from the scene and his brain tried to make sense of it.

His head pounded.

“Okay...okay...I need…” He gazed into the reflection and opened the eye in his forehead. The hypnotic sensations pulsated over him as he spoke in self convincing tones. “I need to be sober. I’m not drunk...My head doesn't hurt...I am sharp, I am confident…I’m okay.”

His self induced illusion began to take effect and he thought over his options. Laying on the floor, he opened his data tablet and swiped through screens to the Pyra’s contact. He held the device up to his ear, the intervals of the buzz ringing through the speaker.

“Knox, where in the hells have you been. I’m getting nervous. I thought you were done in.”

“My...My apartment just exploded.”

“Get down here now!”

“I’m on my way...Riza...I’m sorry.”

“Forget about that, just get here. I’m on my way, but I don’t wanna be in the same place for too long.”

There was a beep and the line went out.

By Jason Pratley

Jason Pratley joined the team sometime in 2013 when he created the concepts for the gods of ODR. He has since become the Writing Director and de facto loremaster for DDG. Check out some other stories and content at jvfpp.wordpress.com and goodevilcomic.com